Hunting > Whitetails

10 Bow Shooting Tips

Relax, focus on the spot, float your aim—these shooting tips and the others below will put you well on your way to becoming an accurate, successful bow hunter.


1. Treestand Technique: When people miss from a treestand, they often miss high. There are two reasons. First, the deer itself may “jump the string.” Almost all of them drop at least a little, some drop a lot. Second, some archers lower their bow arm instead of bending at the waist to create the downward shot angle. This also tends to produce high hits because it changes the relationship between the bow arm and the upper body and thus between the bow and the eye.

2. Relax: It starts with your feet and legs and leads to your bow arm and bow hand. Everything should be relaxed. Bend your bow arm just enough to unlock the elbow and let your fingers hang naturally in a relaxed grip.

3. Focus on the Spot: You have likely heard the old saying that if you aim small you will miss small. That is definitely true of archery. Learn to maintain a sharp focus on the spot you want to hit.

4. Follow Through: The follow-through is both mental and physical, and serves to hold everything together long enough for the arrow to escape the bow. On the physical side, your grip-hand must stay relaxed until the arrow hits the target. Many bowhunters snap it closed at the same moment they release the string—destroying accuracy. Resist the common tendency to drop your arm when you release the string.

5. Two-Finger Release Technique: There’s no question that the mechanical release is the most accurate way to shoot an arrow; however, if you want to stick with fingers, then use only two fingers to hold the bowstring at full draw. After reaching let-off, drop your top finger off the string and then execute your anchor and release with the other two. The best finger shooters carry 70 percent of the holding weight with their middle finger.

6. Make a Surprise Release: Target panic is the attempt—and the inability—to hold the pin steady on the intended target while taking a shot. Invariably, the afflicted will issue a “Now!” command in their mind when the pin hesitates on the spot. Trying to time the shot eventually creates a mental gridlock resulting in very inconsistent (and distressing) shooting. The cure is simple, just learn to create a surprise release.

7. Float Your Aim: One of the most damaging misconceptions in archery involves aiming. Many feel that the pin should settle rock-steady on the spot they want to hit in order to enjoy great accuracy. This is where target panic gets the spark that turns into a flame. If you are releasing the string correctly, with a surprise method, you won’t be able to time the shot, nor do you have to. Just let the pin float around and over the spot. When the surprise release goes, you will be amazed by how close the arrow hits to the center. It is spooky, really, but one of the keys to good shooting, nonetheless.

8. Aim Time: Studies show that seven seconds is the longest an average person can stay focused on one thing without distraction. Make every attempt to perform your shots within seven seconds from the time you lock on the spot.

9. Mid-Flight Obstacles: Because arrows do not fly on a flat trajectory, you can often lob a shot over an obstacle. With your bow at full draw, aim at the intended target with the correct sight pin and check the pins for the yardages in between and you can do this.

10. In-Season Practice: Most bowhunters make the mistake of shutting down their regular practice when the season starts. You need to keep up your strength and maintain your form throughout the season so it will still be sharp when you need it.

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28 Responses to 10 Bow Shooting Tips

Kyle wrote:
September 23, 2014

Hey Dalton, I realize this is a year after your post, but when you are practicing with your bow have you thought about running sprints or doing push ups before you shoot? Practicing with an elevated heart rate might just help the next time you run across a 150lb doe, or a shooter buck for that matter. Breath control and being able to slow your heart rate can make a world of difference.

zack wrote:
September 13, 2014

This helped alot in in the blind right now with my bow

Jeremy wrote:
April 04, 2014

Lynn, if you feel restricted in your gear, you may need to get some bigger stuff. I find cabelas brand scent lock fits where it needs to but gives you freedom to move. Also if you're having trouble drawing your bow, just lower your draw weight. You don't need 300+ ibo to harvest a deer. If you're not comfortable and not having fun then the hunt doesn't mean much! Best of luck in 2014!!

Joe Norman wrote:
March 15, 2014

What has helped me with not having a 'jerky' release is to hold the string back using your back muscles more predominately than your arm. You can feel when your back takes over and that relaxes your arm for a smoother release, also I follow through with my release arm by it going back after the release. If your release is adjustable, you can fine tune it for an easier trigger pull.

Matthew Hersh wrote:
February 13, 2014

From personal experience, I know bow hunting can be tough. I'm posting this comment in regards to science (physics). Sometimes there are other factors that can lead to a good shot on the monster buck you've been waiting for. One example is using a rangefinder. Not only will this tell you how far the deer is away from you, it can also give a hunter some detailed information on what may come next. Some hunters prefer to hunt out of tree stands when using a bow, such as myself. Other factors may come into play rather than distance when using the ranger finder. The ranger finder uses trigonometry to find the distance of the deer through angles.The speed of the arrow on release (velocity), acceleration, wind resistance, wind direction, angle of the shot, and of course distance of the object, are all important factors when in comes to archery hunting. These are examples of every day physics. In order to have a nice clean shot (not guaranteed), make sure your bow is capable of shooting longer ranges. The arrow on release does not necessarily go in a straight line. The arrow makes an arch, which can cause problems when shooting long ranges. Say for instance a deer is standing 50 yards away. Shooting straight on the deer would be an obvious miss. It is better to shoot at a higher elevated angle to compensate for the far distance and curvature that the arrow will encounter through flight. Many bows are equipped with an average feet per second rating. It is important to understand the more feet per second, the faster the arrow speed will be. The faster the let off of the arrow, the less of an arch the arrow will have, and less time the arrow is in the air. That means the arrow will reach the deer at a much quicker time, and give the deer less time to jump or duck.

nature fist wrote:
November 20, 2013

everyone stop stressing, the greatest make mistakes,keep practicing, test yourself and stay in they field.

Dalton wrote:
October 11, 2013

How can you stay still my heart beats so hard and my legs shak I missed a good 150 lb doe

josh wrote:
September 27, 2013

All very good advice and those practices will make a bow shooter that much better

Billy bob wrote:
September 01, 2013

I was taking about twelve seconds to shoot and missing high then I sped it up and was hitting the bucks perfect

April wrote:
July 31, 2013

Thanks for the tips. I just got my 1st bow ( a craze) I love it !! I have been practicing with nearly everyday with it and I can put 6 arrows in the space the size of my palm. I wanna make my group a little tighter.

Gavin wrote:
July 27, 2013

Thanks I just got my bow a couple days ago and it totally improved my accuracy.

Frank porto wrote:
June 19, 2013

if you're still not getting the results you want, go to your nearest Pro Shop and tell them. they are more than willing to put you through your paces and point out where your problem lies.

Tifani wrote:
January 22, 2013

I'm trying out for archery team at my school and this really helped me out.

Brent wrote:
November 27, 2012

I missed a nice Doe and small spike horn this year because I tensed on the release and the arrows flew left - assumed it was the arrows, until I went home and shot again and it came down to my mechanics....or Step 4 (Follow Through) on your list - Good advice - thanks!

Aaron wrote:
October 30, 2012

I've been bow hunting most my life and like said it is harder to pull back an shoot with heavy clothes on but just shoot with a coat And it will work out for u

heath wrote:
October 10, 2012

how not to jerk and how to let ur arrow go

Lynn wrote:
October 06, 2012

I have been only bow hunting for a couple years. I have been practice shooting for about two months. Why is it so much harder to draw back when fully clothed? I never had this trouble before. I guess I should have been suited up all summer long while practicing....Any tips to help build strength fast?

Dan wrote:
September 29, 2012

Really struggling with the 'target panic' issue. I will try the surprise shot and floating aim. Any other ideas to help beat target panic? Thanks alot

Elanea wrote:
September 20, 2012

I've been a hunter all my life even tho I'm only 23 but this is the first year I'm going out with a bow. I've been doing pretty good for just starting. I'm able to group them but the problem I have is consistency ever time I start over. Thank you so much for this article. I'll be trying these tips for sure! Thank you again!!

TJ wrote:
September 11, 2012

I was focusing on the pin thinking that it was "just like" pistol shooting. Found that focusing on the spot and squeezing when the pin floated over the target worked extremely well. Maybe old news to the bow veterans out there.

Mitch wrote:
July 14, 2012

What is blank bailing ? Is it a good practice to do after each practice session ?

Vinny wrote:
June 12, 2012

Start and end each practice session by blank bailing. To help solidify the proper release sequence.

Bryan wrote:
February 28, 2012

@john, I have a trophy taker,(pronghorn style) and it works great! As you pull back tne rest rises and gets more arrow clearance. Wisker buiscuits do not work well over time... I hope this helps! If anything else, e-mail me at

john wrote:
February 27, 2012

what type of arrow rest do you recemend

hunter wrote:
February 23, 2012

nice tips, screw the recurves....

Tyler wrote:
December 23, 2011

I really wish I would of found these Geoffrey I started bow hunting. I still learned. Like bending at the waist.

JIm wrote:
September 15, 2011

My grandson is just starting out and I plan to share these with him to get him off the right way

Ken wrote:
September 15, 2011

Would like to see some comments on the "Long Bow" and the "Recurve" from time to time. thanks